Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Library

As a Mom About the Town I think it is pretty darn important to write a blog post about a particular GOLD MINE that can be found locally, used for free, and enjoyed for a variety of reasons and is perfect for all ages... THE LIBRARY! Yes, the library.

As a kid the library was more than a building, it was my and my brother's babysitter. Especially during the summer months. We lived about 3 miles away from our local branch and as soon as we would get up (long after my mom went to work) we would eat our breakfast, throw on some mismatched clothes, dig our bikes out of the garage and pedal our butts to the Library to hang out for the day. Once there I would hang out in the children's section and read book after book and be in the front row for storytimes and puppet shows.

Every now and then my brother would come check on my (he was older and would head off to other sections of the library to find his favorite reads). But mostly I wandered the building alone and felt completely content and safe.  

I learned a lot at the library.  I learned to be a better reader, I learned to make friends, I learned how to pay off debt, and I learned that losing a book makes your mom mad. I also had FUN. The library provided me opportunity to let my imagination free to go all kinds of places, be different kinds of people, and explore the world in a way that my reality just wasn't able.

I don't know exactly how old I was, but at some point my trips to the library became less frequent. We moved farther away and I had met people in my neighborhood.  Listening to music, dancing, playing with makeup, and giggling at boys became more interesting I guess. The library was not so much a part of my life as a teen.

However, we had a fling, the library and I, when I headed off to college.

After I graduated, the library and I broke up again. 

Until I had children.

Now, I am back and in a very big way! I love the library! Not just the place, but the people!  The experts that work at a library are so much more than book check-er-outers and fine collectors. They live and breathe books, reading, and literacy, and are way more knowledgeable than Google, Bing, and Yahoo.

I go for storytime, summer reading programs, science wizard events, black light puppet shows, and more.  The kids are mesmerized. And they are learning.  And they are having fun.

While the kids enjoy it and I want to feed their love of reading for sure, I learned that I never should have left the place even as an adult - the library has all kinds of stuff for me, too.  It isn't just puppet shows and toddler storytimes! They have live music, cooking demonstrations, exercise classes, book clubs, knitting groups and more! SO MUCH MORE! They bring in authors, directors, producers, artists and snakes.  YES! Snakes! They have a reptile guy and wildlife team that bring in REAL.LIVE.ANIMALS! Animals that I can't even see at local zoos, but there they are - at the Library.

All of this for FREE!

FREE!

Like, it costs nothing. Nada. Zip. Zero. FREE!

Basically what I am saying is... DON'T FORGET THE LIBRARY! Really! You don't need kids, you don't need to be young, you just need some time... take the time, check out the library, you won't be sorry.

And on the days the library is closed.  No worries. Did you know you can check out Audiobooks and eBooks to download to most any phone, tablet or reading device? Yeup.  FREE.  From your home computer.  Easy peasy.  

The Library....it really is a gold mine.  Check out our local Stockton-San Joaquin County Public Library locations, schedules and events by going to the website: www.ssjcpl.org.



Photographs courtesy of Moomp Photography | Heather Mompean
Model is the daughter of a City of Stockton employee | Miss Maddie


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Common Life Stages

Once upon a time I was upset when one of my besties was, well, not being much of a bestie at all.  We had somehow drifted from doing everything together to not doing much of anything at all. We worked together, schooled together, dreamed together, cried together, laughed together and shared all of our most embarrassing moments together... and then... it slowly went away. She went away.

Of course physically she was still in the same office and sat next to me at school but it was as if our friendship had hopped a plane with a one way ticket to Timbuktu and I was left behind in the airport, alone, crying. I missed her.  Even as we got coffee together every morning, I missed her. I missed us.

I had talked to my husband about what I was feeling and that helped, but it wasn't until I talked to another of  my wise best besties that I finally really understood what had happened.

On a day I was feeling most upset about my lost friendship I headed to another wise best besties house for some girl talk and coffee sipping. She let me ramble on and share how I was feeling. Tears and all.

After drinking a pot of coffee and talking non-stop, I finally took a breath.  That gave her the opportunity to respond to everything she had been listening to. And what she said changed everything for me.

She smiled while I cried and said, "Heather, it's normal and it's called 'common life stages'."

Whatever.  What the hell does that mean?

The conversation that followed not only made me feel better in that moment, but has also helped me through a dozen other moments over the last ten years.

Common Life Stages.

Basically, what the lesson amounted to was that in the ebb and flow of friendship, sometimes we are in sync with our friends and sometimes we aren't.  Sometimes we are working through life together and sometimes we need to 'break up' and handle our lives with some space around us.  And you know what, that's ok.

This friend of mine was handling her life.  She was newly pregnant, planning a wedding, learning a new way of living -- and it took all her focus to do that.  She needed to be doing JUST THAT.  She was entering a new life stage that was far different than mine. It wasn't that she didn't want to share with me, she was just buried in the work. 

So, with this new wisdom I had gained, I gave her space.  I quit being an ass, I quit being mad, and mostly I quit being hurt -- and I gave her space.  I would be there for her when she needed me and I never left her, I just gave her space.

The space took up a lot of time... months went by and I missed her.

My husband reminded me that just as I hadn't left her, she hadn't gone anywhere either.  She was still there.  She was still my friend, she was still my bestie... she was just hunkered down and focusing on her new spot in life.

We still worked together, went to school together, graduated together, and talked with each other... and she had a baby and a marriage.  We kept up with each other until we just seemed to recapture the core of what we use to be.  We synced back up.  Our life ebbed and flowed and we found ourselves in the same tide pattern. We were never apart, but we were together again in the way we use to be and it was good.  It was great.  It was perfect.

That was 9 years ago.  And you know what, she and I have had several more times that our life ebbed and flowed and our life stages were common and uncommon. Each time I held my breath a little while we worked on what we needed to do.  And each time I sighed and smiled when we would reconnect and sync up.  She's my bestie.  For the long haul.  I don't worry so much anymore when we drift apart because I know that we will always be together.  She's my sister from another mother.  She's my pea and I am her carrot.

This has been true with other friends in my life. Including the wise best bestie that taught me the valuable wisdom of "Common Life Stages."  She is ALWAYS there for me. Whether we are down the street from one another or over a mountain range and hundreds of miles apart, she's there for me and I am there for her.  Sometimes more so... due to the ebb and flow of life.

If I could pretend to be as wise as she, I would say to all... remember, friendship isn't all or nothing.  It's everything.  It's taking the good, the bad, the happy, the sad, the common and the uncommon and loving each other because of, despite of, and through it all. 

It isn't very often that we find people that turn into forever friends.  Mostly we just poke each other on Facebook and send chain letters, but if you are lucky to have a friendship really grow, take hold, and blossom then enjoy the times you are in sync and make time to laugh, play, share, and love often. And when you aren't in sync... love anyway.  In this sea of life you will eventually be synced up again and riding the same wave! And when you do, ride it with passion. And when you aren't let kindness and faith nestle in and make no room for hurt.  Common Life Stages. 



Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Happy Valentines Day

It's THAT time of year again when we have a holiday that encourages love, love, love. Sounds good to me! I like me some lovin'!

So here I go.  I'm gonna put some extra effort into lovin' up everyone.  The husband's gonna get some extra lovin', the kiddos will get double doses of momma love, the parents, grandparents, bestie, sandwich maker, and even the dry cleaner lady is gonna get some good ol' Valentines lovin'.

It's important you know.  

The love.

It's the glue that holds us all together, along with compassion, kindness, and... air.  Air is glue, we all need it.  Just like everything else. Why not have a holiday that rattles our cage a little more to take note of the importance of loving one another.  I'm ok with it.  I even like it, yo.

But while I am making dinner reservations for a romantic dinner with the hubby, baking cookies for the kids, writing love notes, smiling a little more on purpose and hugging people a little bit more tightly, I have this little nagging feeling. A nagging thought that has been poking and pestering me.

When I turn my attention from making 23 classroom favors to give the thought some attention it vanishes, poof, into mid-air. Quite annoying really.

But then last night, after the kids were in bed and I had the house to myself, I sat quietly with a cup of coffee and my book. While reading about a scary car chase that reached speeds over 100, the thought came back and sat awhile.  Soon I didn't know I no longer cared for what I was reading and instead this thought and I started to chat it up some. 

What if... what if in the midst of all this loving of the husband, the kids, the besties, the barista.... what if I loved myself?  What if? 

It's easy to love Mr. Mompean! Sure, his obsession with music, guitars, and football doesn't always have him seeing the crying, screaming, poopy kid standing before him, but he works hard, man, to keep our family ship afloat!

It's easy for me to love my kiddos, too! I can turn a cheek to the fighting, milk spilling, messiness they cause. They are my world!

And my besties? If I was a bisexual polygamist I would marry them! I love these women from head to toe and all the outsides and insides in-between.  They keep me sane when they aren't driving me nuts!

Hell, even inanimate objects rate higher than me.  I wouldn't bat an eye to writing a love not to my favorite shampoo, most comfortable bra, and all the Apple iProducts I own. Is that weird?  Don't answer.

But what about... me.

What if I allowed the same unconditional love and appreciation for myself? Is that too crazy?

What if?

I can love me.

WE can love US.

What if all us mama's quit with the excuses and buts that hinder us from taking time to love ourselves and instead we used the word AND.  We can love all these people (and things) AND we love ourselves.

What if on Valentines Day (or better yet, all of February, or all of the year, or all of forever) we love ourselves like we love our children and we forgive ourselves of our imperfections, our bitchiness, our yell-iness.

What if instead we loved one another and we appreciate ourselves. Give ourselves a rest from the never-ending mama-guilt that passengers with us everywhere we go, and opt to give ourselves a hug like we hug our kids? Is that weird?  Don't answer.

What if we said to ourselves "I love you to the moon and back" or "I love you more" or "I love you beyond measure".  We could compliment ourselves for all that we do well and for all the hard work we do to keep our family ship's afloat.

What if, mama's? What if?

Maybe, just maybe we would then be able to provide the best example to our own kids in both how to give love to others, how to receive love -- and most importantly, how to love ourselves.  

So whattya say? 

How about we carry on with the Valentine's with a renewed sense of love. It's a day to love EVERY one.  Including ourselves.  

In fact, maybe I will make ANOTHER reservation for a romantic dinner... but for one.  It's high time I give myself attention... Happy Valentines to me.  And how fun would it be if while I was sitting alone on my date with me and I looked across the restaurant and I saw one of you, sitting with yourself on the most perfect day with the most perfect person.  I would lift my glass to you and I would smile.

Whattaya say, yo? 

What if.

So here's the triple dog dare... will you take you on a date? Will you embrace you? Will you have a Happy Valentines Day? It is NOT just a couples day - it is a love day. What will you do to show yourself some love?  Tell me in the comments, I can't wait to be inspired!